Posted in Book of Mormon, General Conference, Inspirational

General Priesthood Session – General Conference Oct 2016

Nice arrangement and rousing rendition of Ye Elders of Israel for the opening hymn.

Love at Home feels a bit slow though.

Elder Jeffrey R Holland

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Story of single sister, Molly, with flooded apartment. Home teachers arrive (it was the last day of the month). ‘Oh Molly we can see you are busy – we will come another time.’

The Church’s first source of help – home teaching. ‘We struggle to achieve anything near an acceptable standard of performance.’

In the best of all worlds, a monthly visit in each home is still the ideal. The First Presidency wrote in Dec 2001 – ‘leaders should do their best to use the resources they have available to watch over and strengthen each member.’

Prioritisation of time and frequency of contacts to those who need us the most. Make other forms of contact. Watch for families at Church. Make phone calls. Send emails and text messages. Use social media. Do the best we can in the resources we have available to us.

‘Brethren, the appeal I am making tonight is for you to lift your vision of home teaching. Please, in newer, better ways see yourselves as emissaries of the Lord to His children. That means leaving behind the tradition of a frantic, law of Moses–like, end-of-the-month calendar in which you rush to give a scripted message from the Church magazines that the family has already read. We would hope, rather, that you will establish an era of genuine, gospel-oriented concern for each member, each individual, watching over and caring for each other in compassionate ways, addressing spiritual and temporal needs in any way that helps.

Now, as for what “counts” as home teaching, every good thing you do “counts,” so report it all! Indeed, the report that matters most is how you have blessed and cared for those within your stewardship, which has virtually nothing to do with a specific calendar or a particular location. What matters is that you love your people and are fulfilling the commandment to “watch over the Church always” [D&C 20:53]. ‘

Story of friend who ran over son in his car on his driveway. Father was inconsolable. into that agonising breach came three redeeming forces 1. Love of Heavenly Father. 2. His wife who loved him and reminded him that she too had last that son and was determined not to lose her husband as well. 3. Home teacher. He reached down and picked up the father from that tragedy on the driveway.

‘When we speak of home teaching or watchcare or personal priesthood ministry—call it what you will—this is what we are talking about. We are asking you as home teachers to be God’s emissaries to His children, to love and care and pray for the people you are assigned, as we love and care and pray for you. May you be vigilant in tending the flock of God in ways consistent with your circumstances.’

A powerful talk from Elder Holland which opens up the possibilities of more flexible, individual-focused watchcare through home teaching.

Elder LeGrand R Curtis Jr

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Story of ‘The Freeze’ in Ghana – a period of time when the Church was outlawed in that country. A young policeman was assigned to watch over a Church building at night. He saw a copy of the Book of Mormon. He felt impelled to read it. After the Freeze ended he and his family joined the Church. He is now serving as a District President.

Story of Italian Catholic priest whose faith wavered. He became convinced that there had been a general apostasy from Christ’s teachings. He met two missionaries and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. He is now a Branch President. Their experiences are similar to those of Parley P Pratt when he read the Book of Mormon. For others the realisation of the truth of the Book of Mormon comes more gradually.

‘I encourage every one to discover the power of the Book of Mormon. As President Thomas S. Monson has encouraged: “Read the Book of Mormon. Ponder its teachings. Ask Heavenly Father if it is true” [“Dare to Stand Alone,” Ensign orLiahona, Nov. 2011, 62]. During that process you will feel the Spirit of God in your lives. That Spirit will be part of your testimony that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s true Church on the earth today. That testimony will help you resist temptation. It will prepare you for “the great call of diligence … to labor in the vineyards of the Lord” [Alma 28:14]. It will stand as a sure anchor when accusations or slanderous statements are used to challenge your faith and will be a rock-solid foundation when you are challenged with questions you cannot answer, at least immediately. You will be able to discern truth from error, and you will feel the assurance of the Holy Ghost reconfirming your testimony over and over again as you continue to read the Book of Mormon throughout your lives.’

‘I also encourage parents to make the Book of Mormon an important part of your home.’

‘The greatest power of the Book of Mormon is its impact in bringing us closer to Jesus Christ. It is a strong witness of Him and His redeeming mission. Through it we come to understand the majesty and power of his atonement.’

A powerful testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon.

 

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

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The story of Alma the Younger. He devoted his life to undoing the damage he had done. He was perhaps the most well-known celebrity of his day. He chose to resign from public office and devote himself to preaching the gospel. The people of Ammonihah rejected him. But an angel told him to return. It was a dangerous assignment but he returned speedily. The story of Amulek. Amulek opened his heart to Alma’s message. He became a champion of truth.

‘One of the most bittersweet narratives in all of scripture [is] in Alma chapters 8–16.

Today, I would like to ask you to consider two questions:

First: “What can I learn from Alma?”

Second: “How am I like Amulek?”’

‘Alma was an exceptionally gifted and capable man. It may have been easy to think that he did not need anyone’s help. Nevertheless, what did Alma do when he returned to Ammonihah?

Alma found Amulek and asked him for help.

And Alma received help.

For whatever reason, sometimes we as leaders are reluctant to find and ask our Amuleks.’

Perhaps we think that we can do the work better by ourselves. Too often we hesitate to invite people to use their talents. The Saviour’s message was Come, follow me.

‘In whatever position you currently serve—whether you are a deacons quorum president, a stake president, or an Area President—to be successful, you must find your Amuleks.’

It may be someone who is unassuming or even invisible in your congregations. What may not be seen at first sight is that they are waiting to hear the words from you ‘The Lord needs you, I need you’

Invite those who need to hear a call to action. ‘You may be surprised yo discover a valiant servant of the Lord who would otherwise remain hidden.’

‘While some of us should be looking for an Amulek, for others the question might be “How am I like Amulek?” ‘

‘Perhaps, like Amulek, you know in your heart that the Lord has “called [you] many times” but you “would not hear.”’

‘There is service that no-one else can give in quite the same way.’

Story of David who became unsettled by negative material. He asked for his name to be removed from the Church records. He spent his time challenging Church members and their beliefs. One person he engaged with was Jacob. Jacob prayed for him for over a decade. Over time David did begin to change. Like Alma he had not forgotten the truths he had once known. He had too much pride to ask to be readmitted. But he continued to feel the pull of the Saviour. He began to listen to the whisperings of the spirit. His doubts began to become faith. Eventually he was re-baptised. This past summer his blessings were returned to him and he serves as a Gospel Doctrine teacher. Let us seek out, find, inspire and rely on the Amuleks in our wards and stakes.

‘Our beloved Savior knows where you are. He knows your heart. He wants to rescue you. He will reach out to you. Just open your heart to Him. It is my hope that those who have strayed from the path of discipleship—even by only a few degrees—will contemplate the goodness and grace of God, see with their hearts, learn from Alma and Amulek, and hear the life-changing words of the Savior: “Come, follow me.””

A heart-felt plea from President Uchtdorf.

President Henry B Eyring

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The Aaronic Priesthood prepares us for a more sacred trust.

The Lord is preparing the Aaronic Priesthood holder to become an Elder.

A Bishop who treated him as if he was already what he had the potential to become. He taught me to have the courage to go anywhere in the service of the Lord.

‘Many things may help strengthen our younger brothers to rise up in the priesthood, but nothing will be more powerful than our helping them develop the faith and confidence that they can draw on the power of God in their priesthood service.

That faith and confidence won’t stay with them from a single experience of being lifted by even the most gifted Melchizedek Priesthood holder. The ability to draw on those powers must be cultivated by many expressions of confidence from those who are more experienced in the priesthood.

The Aaronic Priesthood holders will also need daily and even hourly encouragement and correction from the Lord Himself through the Holy Ghost. That will be available to them as they choose to remain worthy of it. It will depend upon the choices they will make.’

That is why we must teach by example and by testimony.

Mosiah 4:

29 And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.

 30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

The power and support of mothers.

‘You priesthood leaders and fathers of Aaronic Priesthood holders can work miracles. You can help the Lord fill the ranks of faithful elders with young men who accept the call to preach the gospel and do it with confidence. You will see many you have lifted and encouraged stay faithful, marry worthily in the temple, and in turn, lift and prepare others.

It will not take new activity programs, improved teaching materials, or better social media. It will not require any call beyond what you have now. The oath and the covenant of the priesthood gives you power, authority, and direction. I pray you will go home and study carefully the oath and covenant of the priesthood, found in Doctrine and Covenants section 84.’

‘I pray that we will rise to our call to lift others to prepare them for their glorious service.’

President Thomas S Monson

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‘In 1833 the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith a plan for healthy living. That plan is found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and is known as the Word of Wisdom. It gives specific direction regarding the food we eat, and it prohibits the use of substances which are harmful to our bodies.

Those who are obedient to the Lord’s commandments and who faithfully observe the Word of Wisdom are promised particular blessings, among which are good health and added physical stamina [see D&C 89:18–20]. ‘

Story of John A Larsen in WW2. Serving in Coast Guard.

‘May we care for our bodies and our minds by observing the principles set forth in the Word of Wisdom, a divinely provided plan. With all my heart and soul, I testify of the glorious blessings which await us as we do.’

A very short address. President Monson appeared weak and his speech was not always as clear as we are used to.

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